Using a textbook

In prepping for a workshop on how to adapt a textbook to TPRS teaching, I was surprised to be reminded of two things: first, that textbooks can have very funny pictures in them that kids can use for stories. I found a perfect sports cartoon in my old Russian one book for this week’s story. The questions that go with it are banal, but the kids won’t have to pay attention to them.

Secondly, I’d forgotten that textbook writers consider some very high-frequency structures and words to be “advanced.” The text waited until page 385 (a page I never actually reached when I was using the book for first-year students) to discuss whether something happened in the morning, day, or night. It isn’t as though I’ve set out to teach those time phrases, but they do come up, even when we’re just discussing what kids do over the weekend.

The nice thing that I can see from looking at the text is that we do hit most of the grammar that the textbook does, without the angst of having to open it up and do exercises.

But once again, I remember from long ago that even as a pre-TPRS teacher, I wanted more reading in the text. I wanted the kids to be able to read interesting, compelling stories. We’ve known for a long time that reading is king. Does it take its place in newer textbooks?

And one last comment: I sent Susie the current draft of the presentation that Betsy and I will be making, asking for comments. Her only suggestion was that I change the part where I say, ” Teach three words at a time,” to “Teach three phrases at a time.” We should be chunking vocabulary, rather than offering it a piece at a time, once we’re past the very beginning stages.

Every single time I connect with Susie, I get a hint on how to be a better teacher.


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